Lemon lovers will beg you to bring these (almost no bake) tart, sweet, rich, and creamy mini raspberry lemon cheesecakes to your next gathering!
The original recipe makes one 9″ cheesecake, but I adapted the recipe to make mini cheesecakes that can be easily shared and taken to potlucks or other gatherings. How pretty would these look at a 4th of July celebration picnic or barbecue?
The only baking required for this recipe is to set the lemon-flavored crust. The mini raspberry lemon cheesecakes get their fluffy and creamy texture from a gelatin based lemon cream cheese filling that sets up as it chills in the fridge. To really make these cheesecakes special, top the cheesecakes with a stunning swirl of lemon curd and raspberry preserves.
Mini Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake Ingredients / Preparation
Don’t let the ingredient list intimidate you. The list is not as long as it seems because the ingredient quantities are listed separately for each component in the recipe.
There are three main components to this cheesecake:
- Lemon cookie crust
- Fluffy, lemon, cream cheese filling
- Topping with homemade lemon curd and raspberry preserves
TIP: Use fresh lemons in this recipe. The quality and flavor of fresh lemon juice and lemon zest cannot be matched. You will need 3-4 good sized lemons for this recipe. Before working with your lemons, be sure to clean the outside of the lemons very well.
Lemon Cookie Crust
Many other cheesecake recipes use a graham cracker crust. However, this cheesecake crust is made by crushing lemon sandwich cookies. This lemon base really enhances the other lemon flavors in the other layers of the cheesecake.
Store bought lemon sandwich cookies are already fairly sweet, so you do not need to add additional sugar to the crust. Feel free to use any lemon sandwich cookie in this recipe, but I like to use Oreo Lemon Creme Sandwich Thin Cookies or regular stuffed Oreo Lemon Creme Sandwich Cookies.
After crumbling the cookies, add a few tablespoons of melted butter and lemon zest to the crumbs to help the crust bind together. Then, add a scant tablespoon of the crust mixture to each cavity of a lined cupcake pan.
For these mini raspberry lemon cheesecakes, the lemon cookie crust is the only element that needs to be baked. To set the crust, bake for 8 minutes, at 350°, until lightly browned. Allow the crust to cool for at least 30 minutes before adding filing.
While the crust is cooling, the lemon curd and the cream cheese filling can be prepared. Making homemade lemon curd is very simple, and it only takes about 5 minutes.
This lemon curd is so versatile, and can be used in so many applications. In fact, in this recipe, it is used to flavor the filling, and it is used as a topping.
To start the curd, add one whole egg, one egg yolk, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt to a small sauce pan. While whisking, cook the curd gently over medium-low heat on the stove for about 3 minutes. The lemon curd is done when it is thick like pudding, and you can run the whisk through the center of the curd and the line does not fill in.
Cornstarch is not used in this recipe because eggs act as a natural thickening agent.
TIP: Cooking eggs too quickly can form small rubbery specks of egg. If this happens, you can strain the curd through a fine mesh strainer. This will also remove the lemon zest from the curd, but at this point, you do not need to keep the zest in the curd.
Next, add the lemon curd to a bowl with butter and heavy cream. Adding butter and heavy cream to the curd helps provide a smooth and creamy texture. It also helps cool off the curd so it doesn’t overcook.
Refrigerate the lemon curd in the fridge to allow it to cool until we need to use it.
Lemon Cheesecake Filling
Because the filling for the mini raspberry lemon cheesecakes is not baked, this recipe uses unflavored gelatin to thicken and set the filling.
TIP: Unflavored gelatin is not the same as prepackaged Jello; Jello contains gelatin, but you do not want to substitute Jello in this recipe.
When working with unflavored gelatin, you first need to soften or “bloom” the gelatin. To bloom the gelatin, sprinkle the gelatin on top of cold liquid. In this recipe, we are blooming the gelatin with lemon juice. Let the gelatin bloom and set for about five minutes.
Typically, to activate and dissolve the gelatin, warm or hot liquid is added to the bloomed gelatin. However, in this recipe, microwaving the gelatin mixture for 30 seconds will dissolve the gelatin without adding extra liquid. If we added extra liquid, the cheesecake filling texture would not be as thick and creamy.
Next, use a hand mixer to combine softened cream cheese, sugar, salt, heavy cream, ¼ cup of the prepared lemon curd, and the prepared gelatin until the mixture is creamy, smooth, and fluffy. If your cream cheese is not softened, the mixture may be lumpy. Be sure to use softened cream cheese to achieve the perfect filling texture.
TIP: On average, it takes about 30 minutes for cream cheese to come to room temperature. To soften cream cheese faster, cut it into 1″ (or smaller) cubes. If you are in a rush, you can also remove the cream cheese from the foil wrapper, and microwave the cream cheese for 15 seconds to soften it even faster.
After that, evenly divide filling mixture between the 24 muffin cups. Tap the muffin pan lightly on the counter to release any air bubbles and to smooth the tops of the filling.
Mini Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes Topping
Citrus and berry flavors pair so well together, and this combination of the lemon curd and raspberry preserves reminds me of spring and summer.
Furthermore, the lemon curd, prepared earlier, is packed with lemon flavor, and adding it to the top of the cheesecake provides a lovely tart lemon shot when you take a bite of it.
My mom makes the best homemade raspberry jam, and I always have a jar or two in my freezer. Her jam is amazing on top of these cheesecakes! If you aren’t as lucky to have homemade jam, use a good quality, store bought jar of raspberry preserves.
Add the remaining lemon curd and raspberry preserves into two separate plastic baggies. Snip an 1/8″ off of one corner of each bag. Pipe thin, parallel lines of curd and raspberry preserves on top of each cheesecake.
Next, lightly drag a toothpick or butter knife, perpendicularly, through the curd and raspberry lines to create a zig-zag appearance. To achieve downward looking points, drag the toothpick from top to bottom. Alternatively, dragging the toothpick from bottom to top will create an upward point. Feel free to alternate the pattern or to keep the points facing the same direction.
TIP: Don’t worry if the pipping lines are not perfect. Once you swirl the topping, it will still look beautiful.
Finally, chill the cheesecakes in the refrigerator for 6 hours to allow the cheesecakes to set. To store the mini raspberry lemon cheesecakes, cover them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Want More Yummy Summer Dessert Ideas?
You may also like my small batch Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake. It’s my take on the one found at the Cheesecake factory!
Or check out my recipe for Mini Peanut Butter Cup Cookies.
Mini Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes
- 10 oz Lemon Sandwich Cookies (Oreo Thins)
- 2 tbsp Butter Melted
- 1 tbsp Lemon Zest (from 1 – 2 lemons)
Curd / Raspberry Topping Ingredients
- 2 large Eggs
- ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice (Juice from 1 lemon)
- 1 tbsp Lemon Zest (from 1 – 2 lemons)
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1 tbsp Heavy Whipping Cream
- Raspberry Preserves
- 2 ¾ tsp Unflavored Gelatin (1 Packet)
- ¼ cup Lemon Juice (Juice from 2 Lemons)
- 1 ½ lb Cream Cheese Softened
- ¾ cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 ¼ cup Heavy Whipping Cream Room Temperature
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- Pulse lemon cookies in a blender or a food processor until finely ground.-OR-Add lemon cookies to a plastic baggie and crush with a rolling pin until finely ground.
- With water, wash and clean the outside of the lemons. Finely zest all three lemons with a zester or on the smallest holes of a grater.
- Melt butter in a microwave safe dish (about 10-20 seconds).
- In a mixing bowl, combine cookie crumbs, melted butter, and half of the lemon zest until crumbs are coated in butter and the zest is thoroughly mixed into the crumbs.
- Divide crumb mixture between 24 muffin cups lined with silicone or paper liners (less than 1 tbsp per muffin cup). Pack the crumbs down with the back of a spoon or the bottom of a glass.
- Bake for 8 minutes at 350° until set and lightly browned. Let crusts cool for 30 minutes before adding filling.
- Roll all the lemons on the counter beneath your hands to start to release the juices. Squeeze the juice from the lemons into a 2 cup capacity liquid measuring cup.
- Separate one egg into the yolk and the egg white. Save the egg white for another use.
- Add 2 tbsp lemon juice, the remaining half of the lemon zest, sugar, 1 whole egg, and the egg yolk, and salt into a small saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat, whisking continually for about 3 minutes.
- Once lemon curd is pudding like (and you can run the whisk through the center of the curd and the line does not fill in), remove the pan from the heat and add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp heavy cream. Working quickly, mix everything together in the bowl to ensure butter is warmed, melted, and well incorporated.
- Refrigerate the curd for later use.
- Add one packet of unflavored gelatin on top of the remaining lemon juice (you will need at least a 1/4 cup of lemon juice). Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
- Microwave the lemon juice and gelatin mixture for about 30 seconds until the mixture is bubbling around edges and gelatin dissolves.
- Using a hand mixer, beat softened cream cheese, sugar, and salt, for about 2 minutes, until mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Slowly add heavy cream to mixture, and continue to mix for an additional 2 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add gelatin mixture and a ¼ cup of the prepared lemon curd to the cream cheese mixture, and continue to mix for an additional 3 minutes until all ingredients are combined and the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Divide filling mixture between the 24 muffin cups. Tap the muffin pan lightly on the counter to release any air bubbles and to smooth the tops of the filling.
- Add remaining lemon curd to a piping bag or a plastic baggie, and snip an 1/8″ off of one corner of the bag.
- Add remaining raspberry preserves to a piping bag or a plastic baggie, and snip an 1/8″ off of one corner of the bag.
- Pipe thin, parallel lines of curd and raspberry preserves on top of each cheesecake. Lightly drag a toothpick or butter knife, perpendicularly, through the curd and raspberry lines to create a zig-zag appearance. (see blog post above for visual images)
- Refrigerate cheesecakes for at least 6 hours. Remove from muffin pans and serve!